Long hours, bad weather, endless paperwork, volatile prices - welcome to the reality of farming in Ireland
We regularly hear and see romantic descriptions of the 'The Idyllic Irish Family Farm'.
We regularly hear and see romantic descriptions of the 'The Idyllic Irish Family Farm'.
As time moves on into Autumn 2019, a common theme amongst farmer clients is 'where has this year gone', the Latin phrase 'tempus fugit' or time flies comes to mind.
Beef farmers are in the eye of the perfect storm. Brexit, low market prices, poor profitability margins, climate change accusations and beef factory protests all combine to feed the...
Over 30 years ago, I attended a second-year economics lecture as part of my Bachelor in Agricultural Science degree at University College Dublin. It was delivered by the Late Professor...
Farmers are just like all self-employed business people; they find it hard to say no to work.
Spring is a very stressful time for most farmers. Dairy and suckler beef farmers are burning the midnight oil with compact calving patterns in the recommended systems of production. Tillage farmers avail of every available hour to tend to winter crops and plant spring crops.
The very mention of terms like 'cashflow', 'financial projections' or 'farm business plans' tends to immediately turn off most farmers.
In Ireland, there are effectively only three mainstream banks lending to farmers for long-term agricultural projects such as purchasing land or farm building developments.
It is now over ten years since the announcement of the removal of EU milk quotas in 2007. The March 31, 2015 is often referenced as the end of the EU milk quota regime, but the reality is that highly profitable Irish dairy farmers were planning for the 'no milk quota world' immediately after the 2007 announcement.
As 2018 draws to a close, it is good to reflect on a difficult year for many farmers and see what lessons can be learned.
The are many different types of people in the world today. In fact, we are groomed from the day we are born to be the person we grow into being...
The sunny weather has coincided with a much-needed boost in the land market.
Motivation is one of the most important attributes of successful farmers.
Another year, more farm surveys and yet the results and conclusions remain the same.
The forgotten sector in Irish agriculture is part-time farming. Over 50pc of the 140,000 farmers in this country farm on a part-time basis: ie, either the...
In today's world of instant news and media we are bedevilled with populist short-term thinking.
Running a successful farm business is a balancing act between risk and reward.
Ireland has a very fragmented pattern of land ownership. The country has a total land area of 6.9m hectares of which 4.5m are used for agriculture. There are 137,500 farmers so the average farm size is just 32.4ha (80ac).
The first lesson of agricultural economics is that farmers are price takers not price makers.
There are almost 140,000 farmers in the Republic of Ireland - many different characters running many different types of farm enterprises. But they all have one thing in common - they all produce food.
In recent months the market for land in Ireland has thrown off the shackles of the recession and burst into action. Analysis of public auctions for the first six months of the year show an increase of 8pc paid for an acre of land when compared to last year.
Most farmers freely discuss every aspect of their farm businesses with a sense of pride and achievement. It is common to hear stories along the lines of: "My grandfather bought this holding in the 1930s, he then transferred it to my father and now I'm proudly carrying on the family tradition - we have grown it to five time its original size and my plans are to grow it further." Succession...
As if we needed any reminding that 2018 will certainly be remembered as a year where the weather caused havoc at the National Ploughing Championships, leading to the belated closure of Wednesday and the addition of Friday to the traditional three-day event.
It has been a tough year all-round on farmers. The wet back end to 2017 followed by the wet spring and dry hot summer of 2018 have taken their toll on the resolve of farmers in all farm enterprises.
Today's farmers have a vast amount of information at their fingertips to assist them in the running of their farm businesses. Are farmers using this information well or are they just showing off their latest electronic gadget and quoting useless statistics?
It is human nature to knock those who appear to be successful in life. We Irish are particularly good at it, the last generation raised us to ensure "we did not get above our station", the last straw was success going to somebody's head.
The spring of 2018 will linger long in the memory as one of the tough ones on farmers, especially dairy farmers. Most farmers are now seeing the back wall of their silage pits, something they haven't seen since the spring of 2013.
The recent 'Beast from the East' weather front resulted in surprisingly good press for the farmers and agriculture in general.
Life is full of its ups and downs, and running a farm business is no different. Of course, there are the sunny days of summer "when the hay is saved, and the cows are back in calf" but then there are the times when a crisis strikes.
At the start of every year there are endless media guides on how best to set your goals and plan the years ahead.
The land letting market has started with gusto for 2018, as dairy, beef, sheep and tillage farmers eagerly await newspaper adverts from local auctioneers to see what's coming up for letting in their area.
Recently I was in company where most of the people present were non-farmers.
Last Tuesday as I left my office for a day of visits to dairy farmer clients, my mind was pulling me in a million different directions. Did I put my laptop into the car; have I downloaded the relevant files and reports; who must I call en-route; and what time must I be back tonight for training?
Farming is the most dangerous profession in Ireland. 197 people have lost their lives in farm accidents between 2007-2016.
Studies have shown that farmers who have a designated successor for their farm business are considerably more motivated to drive on their businesses than those who do not.
Making the switch can appear daunting and full of risk, but you can hedge your bets and still cash in, writes Mike Brady
Historically, Irish people have had an interesting relationship with land.
In September, the focus for farmers changes from making the most from long summer days to managing and planning for the winter and the year ahead.
The recently published National Farm Survey (NFS) for 2016 showed the average Family Farm Income (FFI) for Irish Farmers had fallen by 9pc to €23,848.
The Teagasc Moorepark Open Day has become a showcase event for Irish dairying.
I have just spent two weeks travelling the magnificent UK countryside as part of the Nuffield International Triennial Conference.
Food Wise 2025 maps out a 10-year vision for the Irish agri-food industry. The report identifies key areas such as sustainability, human capital, competitiveness, market development and innovation to drive growth opportunities in the years up to 2025.
Farming has become a very technical profession, and it is very easy for farmers to be blinded by science and often miss the basic principles.
Irish Agriculture has many great attributes: the love of the land, a warm, temperate climate, traceable food, biosecurity as an island nation, and of course natural grass-based livestock production.
Irish farmers have an interesting relationship with bank debt.
The average dairy farmer in Ireland today milks a herd of 80 cows. However, there are a handful of dairy farmers who have now broken the 1,000-cow barrier. Is this the way Irish dairy farming will continue: bigger and better?
There are approximately 139,000 farmers in the Republic of Ireland.
What type of dairy production systems will there be in the future?
What is a fashion trend?
Ireland has always been a significant player in the world dairy scene.
Who would have believed just 520 days after the removal of milk quotas the EU would introduce a scheme to pay dairy farmers to reduce their milk supply? Farmers have until Thursday, September 15 to decide if they wish to enter the new scheme.
In 2005 I attended a UK Nuffield Farming Scholar event at The Farmers Club in Whitehall, the political heart of London.
Irish farmers find it incredibly difficult to let go of farm land. There are many, often complex reasons for the mental block many landowners experience when making a decision about exiting farming and leasing out land.
Farmers throughout the country are currently asking lots of questions about banks. Recent media coverage of loan sales, tactics by some sub-prime lenders and high profile repossessions have forced farmers to think about their own situations.
Land is an obsession in Ireland, perfectly characterised by the Bull McCabe in John B Keane's play The Field.
There is no money in beef is a refrain we have been listening to from farmers, advisors, academics and industry commentators for the last 30 years. Long gone are the legendary tales from the 1960s and 70s of beef farmers buying farms of land from profits made after a few years trading and fattening cattle.
Brazilian agriculture could be every Irish farmer's dream. Endless acres of quality land, rainfall levels similar to our own and sunshine like Spain means everything just grows faster, bigger and better all year round. Brazil is larger than the entire continent of Europe, and while 61pc of the country is still covered by scrub and trees, they are reclaiming or breaking new land for agricultural production at breakneck speed.
Where do we want Irish farming to be in 2025 and beyond? I suggest the following would be a good basis to plan for the benefit of farmers, industry, consumers and government.
The most difficult decision for all top sports persons is making the decision to retire. Since the recent rugby world cup New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has announced his retirement, getting out at the top of his sport after a glittering career - the perfect retirement plan.
Dairy farmers love a new building project. It's a welcome diversion from the daily routine of milking cows, spreading fertiliser and record keeping.